Aerial Yoga : A brief history of Aerial Yoga

Since you are here reading, it is very likely that you have at least heard of Aerial Yoga, but what exactly is it? 

What are its origins? Who is it good for? This is the first post in a series that will explore these questions and many more. 

So let’s begin with where it began.

Though the aerial hammock has only recently found its way to India the concept is not new to Yog. Suspension props have been used in Asana practice by many yogis in history. Namely, it can be traced back to B.K.S Iyengar who developed a style of yoga that used props to focus on structural alignment. He was well known in the 1970’s for ‘yoga kurunta’ or ‘yoga puppetry’ that used ropes attached to the wall to support and suspend inversion poses. Iyengar ‘rope wall’ yoga is still loved and practiced today internationally.

Aerial Yoga was popularized first in the United States in New York in the early 1990’s. It is most often accredited to the early pioneer Christopher Harrison, a dance producer who founded AntiGravity Performance Company. After his travels abroad he was inspired to use a hammock as a conditioning tool for his dancers. Antigravity Fitness combined suspension, dance, acrobatics, pilates and yoga. This created a novel workout experience to increase strength, flexibility and coordination with the hammock assisted exercises. The elements of dance and acrobatics were more prevalent in this style of aerial fitness, which left room to adapt other styles that focused more on pilates and yoga.

Antigravity yoga started to gain wind amongst other movement professionals and by the late 90’s it swept its way across the U.S. to the west coast. In 2001, physical therapist  Antonio Cardena created the ‘Yoga Swing’ and founded Omni Gym in California. From there it was popularized among the yoga community and found its way overseas to Southeast Asia. ‘Gravotonics’ was founded in Bali in 2003 and in 2004 the Yoga Trapeze was designed by “YOGABODY” founder Lucas Rockwood adapted from the inversion slings he experienced in Thailand. The yoga hammock found its way to the UK in 2011, when Richard Holroyd established Aerial Yoga London. Aerial Yoga is now a worldwide phenomenon that is even more popular in Asia and Europe than when it began in America. 

This modern apparatus is reinvigorating interest in yoga and makes asana practice more accessible to all shapes, sizes and skill levels. It can be used at any age to bring more fun and play into practice. From yoga beginner to practitioner, using the hammock as a tool to modify or intensify alignment in yoga poses provides a variety of experiences for the user. It makes the body feel lighter so it can be lifted out of weight-bearing tension, allowing for more freedom of movement in every posture. It can be used to increase flexibility and strength for more challenging poses. Aerial Yoga truly is for anyone who wants to explore the relationship to their body in a new way. 

Turn your world upside down and gain a new perspective! I can’t wait to dig in and share more with you. Whether you are experienced or you have just been curious to try, let’s embark on this journey together to deepen our understanding of all that Aerial Yoga has to offer.